Saturday, February 24, 2007

Truth, the Emergent Church, and 1800-word Religion Papers

This morning I woke up at a nice, reasonable 9am or so and began working on my 1500-1800 word final paper for my religion class. I'm writing about the command in Deuteronomy and Matthew to "Love the LORD your God" and some of the ways in which it should be manifest in our lives, particularly referencing what we've discussed and studied for class. It was a fairly normal Saturday morning--Laura was sitting in the red chair typing on her computer, Val was eating her oatmeal and writing an email, I was drinking coffee (out of a particularly nice blue mug from IKEA) and just getting to the post-brainstorming draft-writing process when Val and I returned to a topic of conversation we've been having for weeks: the emergent church.

It's been quite the hot issue in our house and in our group of friends lately. Do you all know much about what has been labeled the "emergent" or "emerging" church? It's one of those tricky things that really eludes a concise definition, but from my understanding, it is most generally a movement towards a more experiential rather than theological view of Christianity, among other things. Churches are beginning to emphasize a practical, everyday spirituality in which we really strive to do the things that Jesus commanded us to do. On the other hand, "emerging" churches also sometimes end up rejecting foundational theological study and the absolute truth of the Bible. I don't really know a whole lot about it--its lack of definition makes it really hard to understand clearly. It seems like "emergence" is on a continuum, meaning that not all churches that are emergent are necessarily labeled as such. But it has been really fascinating to talk about with my friends and try to form an opinion about.

Anyway, we were specifically discussing this article about Rob Bell.

The article pretty well slams him for his book Velvet Elvis, which I have not read. Val's been doing a lot of research into it, trying to look at it from all angles. She knows a lot more than I do, but I've been participating in the conversation some. It seems to me that there are "emergent" ideas everywhere I look--in chapel, classes (including this religion class), my church--that I never seriously questioned until I heard the label. So I think that there must be some true, good, biblical things in it, but also some really dangerous ideas.

Just curious as to what you guys think. :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

holland and the killer bunnies

I sat for a long time with worry over my decision to forego the weekend in Chicago with my parents, sisters, brothers, and niece for a normal weekend in Holland. Those who know me are not surprised at my indecisiveness. However, it's a funny thing. Why would I choose the normal, even the mundane, of life at home over a chance to see and laugh with my whole family all together for the first time since New Years?

I'm still not sure I can articulate it correctly, but I think it has something to do with possessiveness of place. I see my life in Holland diminishing like snowbanks in March, and it's easy (although foolish) to believe that my family will have these opportunities forever. And so I try to keep Dimnent Chapel, JP's espresso, and the family in Christ with whom I live frozen in winter for as long as I can, hold them as close as I can. I'm still (and probably will always be) trying to find how I can not hold these things with tight, unforgiving fists, but rather with the grateful surrender God calls us to in Romans 12 and Colossians 3. As with most things, there is a balance to be found.

And so I try to find it. And I do not regret my decision--I only wish that I could have been in two places at once. I actually have a particular affinity for the mundane and everyday of this place. The people here give lazy afternoons, Meijer runs, and late-night kitchen conversations such depth! We didn't do a whole lot besides sit around talking and playing games! And of course homework and church and that sort of thing. I did introduce the girls to Killer Bunnies, though. At first they were a little weirded out, but we laughed, and then we took a spontaneous break to spend half an hour or so chatting about unusual questions like, "What did everyone's grandfathers do for a living?" After that we returned to the game and, somehow, it was enormously funnier. I know I haven't laughed like that in a very long time! It was a blast. We hope to introduce it to more of our friends sometime soon--maybe this coming weekend. Thanks a lot to EB and Brad for giving it to me!

Well, I'm off to a coffee shop to do some writing, Career Services to do some research, and the photo lab to do some printing. Hope everyone's enjoying the melting snow! Here it's creating big lakes all over the roads and the wind (last night the temp was close to 40) feels like a heat wave. Here's to the first tease of Spring.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

snowed in

There have been some requests for snow pictures. However, when the wind chill is -16, I do not particularly enjoy going outside at all, not to mention taking my gloves off and my camera out. So, here are a few pictures from the Day that Church Was Canceled in Holland. Yes, it's true, almost every church in Ottawa county was canceled today, I think! They had the churches running on the bottom of the screen on the TV last night like school closings. So, this is what we did this morning (along with a few shots out our window):

Hope everyone's enjoying the snow :)